Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

December 16 2013

Medical Meeting Planners: These Are Your Most Important Attendees

By David McMillin

medical meeting planners

Empty pizza boxes. Half-finished soda cans. Tables lined with textbooks.

This scene may not sound like your typical medical meeting, but the Radiological Society of North America doesn’t treat their resident attendees in typical fashion. They treat them more like royalty, covering their on-site meals, providing a lounge where like-minded residents can connect and study and offering a Residents and Fellow Symposium where these attendees can gain useful advice as they begin their careers.

I toured the RSNA Annual Meeting during PCMA’s Innovation Exchange, held at McCormick Place in early December and sponsored by Choose Chicago. When I visited the Residents Lounge, the youngest attendees at the biggest gathering of radiologists had just finished a pizza lunch feast. While a few slices of Chicago deep dish may not sound like a gourmet lunch, free tastes better for students who are facing constantly rising tuition costs.

“Making residents feel right at home is one of our top priorities,” Janet Cooper, CMP, Director, Convention Operations, RSNA, told 25 medical meeting planners who toured the RSNA experience at PCMA’s and Choose Chicago’s Innovation Exchange. “Our board is focused on helping give this audience the tools they need to move forward in medicine.”

SEE ALSO: Making Sense of the Millennial Generation

Those tools include courses such as “Future of the Radiology Job Market - Progress or Panic?”, “Negotiating a Tight Job Market - The Do’s and Don’t’s of Finding a Job”, and “Professionalism and the Radiology Trainee.”

RSNA’s 26-member Resident and Fellow Committee is instrumental in developing engaging educational programs and courses that their peers value at annual meeting and throughout the year.
In addition to the Resident and Fellow Committee, radiology residents are included as valued members in a number RSNA Committees, bringing the young physicians’ perspectives to the table as the organization determines strategic direction for the annual meeting and other educational and research programs.

Another crucial tool is affordability. Residents pay no registration fees and no member dues, which is very important in today’s academic world. According to statistics from the Association of American Medical Colleges, the average medical student from the class of 2012 graduated with a whopping $166,750 in educational debt.

Look Around the Industry

Some other medical associations provide free memberships and free or low-cost meeting fees for residents, too. However, at many of these organizations, the assistance doesn’t go much further than a discount. Because residents don’t represent huge revenue opportunities, it can be easy to focus attention on members and attendees with established, high-paying jobs. That’s a short-term solution for the bottom line, though. As member-fueled organizations work to replace their aging audience bases, the long-term future will look bleak if young residents feel like outsiders.

SEE ALSO: The Future of Medical Meetings

The emerging generation of doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals represents where medical associations will go within the next decade. Right now, though, they need to be nurtured. As they stare at a mountain of unforgiving debt and deal with the stress of finding a job, a professional association should feel like a caring family. When those residents mature, they’ll return that care with continued commitment to the association.

RSNA’s engagement strategy doesn’t stop with residents. Click here to learn how the association makes sure that international attendees feel right at home when they journey to Chicago for the annual meeting. 

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